THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

December 4, 2013

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Jon and I were recently watching a movie and one of the lines caught the attention of us both. A mother was speaking to her daughter, who was going through a difficult situation, and said, "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child."

I have observed many times when a child is sick, or having a tough time in school, or having relationship issues and the mom will empathize and feel the pain of their situation. When a son or daughter is sad or not feeling their best, it touches the heart of their mother. No matter the age of the child, whether they be a toddler, adolescent, or middle aged; a true loving mother is affected by the the sadness of their child.

I don't think it was any different when Mary was raising Jesus. When He was cranky and teething, or had a fever, or had chickenpox (or whatever childhood sicknesses children had back then), or fell down and scraped His knees, I believe that Mary was touched by His tears and wanted to do whatever she could to make Him feel better. When Jesus' best friend at school betrayed Him or hurt His feelings, Mary was there to hug Him and try and make Him feel better. When Jesus was sad, it affected Mary; just as mothers today are affected by the sadness of their children.

When Jesus was going through adolescence and feeling gangly and awkward and was outgrowing His clothes faster than Mary could let the hems out or sew for Him, I believe that she felt as frustrated as mothers do today, trying to keep their kids in clothes that fit. Perhaps Jesus had acne and felt ugly and out of place, like some teens do today. Mary was there to assure Him that he was handsome and would outgrow that stage and that life would soon get better.

Many believe that Mary was between the age of 13-15 when she gave birth to Jesus, because the custom of becoming betrothed in that time period for girls was generally around the age of twelve, and Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Perhaps she wasn't so far removed from her own childhood and adolescence that she hadn't forgotten how it felt to go through those various stages. And perhaps her God-given mothering instinct kicked in and she knew how to empathize with her son, just like mothers today.

There is something special about a mother's heart. The desire to nurture and care for a child. As the son and/or daughter grows older, that relationship often changes to a deep friendship. But there never comes a point where the mother stops hurting when her child is hurting or feeling the pain that her "baby" feels.

On the other hand, a mother also feels the joy and pride of seeing their child succeed and do well. They celebrate and rejoice when their child is happy and flourishing.

I believe that Mary was no different. When Jesus left His hometown to begin His ministry at the age of thirty, I'm sure that His mother worried whether or not He had a place to sleep or if He was getting enough to eat. When she heard about the Pharisee's and religious leaders trying to sabotage her son's reputation and cast suspicion on His ministry, I'm sure that it broke her heart -- and there may have been times when she wanted to march to their meetings and give someone a piece of her mind.... much like mama's want to protect their children today! But I'm sure she also felt joy at seeing people respond to the message of Jesus and when they accepted Him as the promised Messiah. Mary must have rejoiced when she heard reports of the sick being healed, delivered, and restored.

Mary was a regular, human girl just like all other women. She just happened to be the one that God chose to carry and raise His Son. But she had the feelings and emotions that all mothers have experiences throughout all of history, going all the way back to Eve and to the generation of mothers today.

When Mary stood at the foot of the cross and saw her son hanging there, after being judged and beaten and spit upon and mocked, I'm sure it felt like her heart was breaking in pieces. Joseph was not mentioned in the Bible at any time during those three years of Jesus' ministry, although it does mention Mary and the earthly brothers and sisters of Jesus. Historians say that Joseph had died at some point during the years that Jesus was growing up; so Mary didn't have the support and comfort of a husband to hold her and grieve alongside her.

Yet while hanging on the cross, Jesus saw Mary standing there, and loved her enough to make sure she would be cared for the rest of her life on earth. It is suggested that as the eldest son, the care of His sole living parent was Jesus' responsibility. Therefore, He took the opportunity to make the arrangements Himself. Although there were many that accepted Jesus as the Messiah, I'm not sure that any of them really understood the significance of what that meant and what that would entail, until they actually saw Jesus hanging on the cross and three days later saw the empty tomb; then having the resurrected Christ appear to them before ascending back to heaven. I'm not sure that the twelve disciples who had ministered beside Jesus even really understood what He was saying, until they were witness to it. Therefore, it may have been even more difficult for the earthly brothers and sisters of Jesus, who were raised in the same household as Him, to recognize and understand that their big brother was the Messiah. That would be a hard concept for any of us to have understood and accept.

In John 19:26-27 the scriptures say, "When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved (which was John), He said to her, 'Dear woman, here is your son.' And He said to this disciple, 'Here is your mother.' And from then on this disciple took her into his home."

Whatever the reasoning behind Jesus' choice, He made sure that Mary was cared for the rest of her days. I believe that Jesus knew that Mary's heart was breaking and that she would grieve for Him, and that John would the best choice to comfort and care for her.

After Jesus ascended back into heaven, I wonder if there were days when Mary looked back over those 33 years and felt as if it were all a dream. "Did I really give birth to the Messiah and raise Him as my very own son?" "Did these past 33 years really happen, or am I just now waking up from a really long dream!?" In some ways it must have seemed very surreal.

In Luke chapter two, we read the story of the birth of Jesus. Verse 19 says, "Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often."

I believe that she did that during the entire thirty-three years that she spent with Jesus on earth. I believe that there were many things that occurred that she kept in her heart and thought about often.

I just had a thought -- Mary was around my age when Jesus ascended back to heaven! Wow!! What an eventful life she had already lived by the time she was my age!

After Jesus left this earth to go back to His Heavenly Father, perhaps the comfort John gave Mary was in the form of a reminder of a promise that Jesus had given His disciples. (John 14:1-4) "Do not let your hears be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Mary had the comfort of knowing that one day she would be reunited for all eternity with her earthly son.

We have that same promise today. We can know, with assurance, that if we choose to follow Jesus, then He has an eternal home prepared for us. Our separation from our loved ones who have left this earth is not final. But there will come a day when we will be reunited with them once again. There will come a day when we will see Jesus face to face and see this place that He has prepared for us. And separation will never come again, for we will all be together for all eternity. What a day that will be!!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

As heartbreaking as it would be for Mary watching her Son give His life to save us all, I imagine it is even more heartbreaking for Jesus to watch people choose eternal death rather than accept Him and repent of their sins. The end of 2 Peter 3:9 says, "He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent."

ON THE MENEWE:

Christmas Wassail

3 quarts apple cider

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks

2 teaspoon lemon rind (don't have to use)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

5 cups pineapple juice

1/2 cup honey

2 large oranges

cloves

Push cloves into 2 large oranges about 1/2 inch apart. Place in baking pan with water. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Heat cinnamon sticks and cider in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes. Pour into punch bowl and float spices oranges on top. Can use cinnamon sticks for stirring. Makes 40 cups. Can reheat.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

My sisters, Shirley and Janie, used to love playing paper dolls -- using the catalog to cut their paper dolls out of. They didn't like the store-bought ones. They would take a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog (I think our aunt would give us a catalog occasionally after she finished with it or got a new one) and would go to the men's section and find the dad and cut his silhouette out; then go to the women's section and cut out a lady for the mother; then go to the children's section and cut out however many kids they wanted their family to have. They would name each member of the family. The family would go to church and sing or whatever...... And that is how we country folk used to play paper dolls!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

All the Christmas presents in the world are worth nothing without the presence of Christ. - David Jeremiah

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org